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Equality: Queen set to sign historic Royal Charter supporting gay rights and gender equality

The Queen is set to sign a historic Royal Charter today at Marlborough House in London pledging support for gay rights and gender equality. It will be the first such document of its kind produced by the Commonwealth nations setting out a common set of values, reports The Independent.

The Queen will today sign the document hailed as a 'Magna Carta' for the 21st Century, which sets out the beliefs and shared values for all the Commonwealth nations.

The document, agreed by the Heads of State of all Commonwealth nations last December, will endorse an end to gender discrimination, committing nations to gender equality and the empowerment of women. The document also pledges support for gay rights, the first time the Queen has publically endorsed this cause.

Although the Commonwealth Heads of State have agreed the document, around 80% of Commonwealth nations operate under anti-gay legislation. Homosexuality is still outlawed in countries including Jamaica, Malaysia and Singapore.

In addition, several African countries have shown worrying shifts away from equality, with some initiating new anti-gay legislation in recent years, prompting the UK to threaten the removal of aid from Uganda and Ghana and the suspension of aid to Malawi.

The Charter actually fails to specifically mention gay rights in its text, instead saying that the leaders are opposed to discrimination "rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds."

Whilst the move to support anti-discrimination has been welcomed, some commentators have criticised the fact that it failed to specifically mention gay rights.

"While I doubt that Elizabeth II is a raging homophobe, she certainly doesn't appear to be gay-friendly. Not once during her reign has she publicly acknowledged the existence of the LGBT community," said Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner.

Source:

Queen set to sign new charter in 'watershed' backing of equal rights for women and gay people (The Independent)